Vendor Compliance and Liability 101

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By Katie Torres

Hiring vendors to perform repairs does come with some risks, but these risks can be easily avoided by taking the right steps.

There can be risks such as noncompliance with policies, violation of regulations, loss of data or assets, or even problems with the service itself. 

Compliance and liability is about reducing this risk and keeping great relationship with the vendors who you choose to work with, and it's actually really simple to do with some careful planning and intentionality.

Here are some best practices to reduce risk, and increase the chances of keeping everybody happy.

Every vendor needs to be certified, and have the paperwork to prove it.

Make sure you get their certificate of Insurance and W9. A good maintenance software will track this for you, and can even send automated reminders to your vendor if they fail to provide it within a certain time frame.

So when your vendor is good to go on this front with no questions of certification, it's time to move onto the rest of the plans and policies for compliance and liability. 

Get to know your vendor.

What is their reputation? Are there other companies who can vouch for the kind of work they perform? Ask them about their qualifications. Make sure they share your values and will work according to those values. Find out what their systems and processes are - what is their procedure for arriving on a job site and how do they go about sharing updates?

Identify potential risk.

Know which areas could pose obstacles. Decide ahead of time what the process will be to avoid the problem before it happens, and what you will do in the event that something does go wrong.

Know what the weather will be, what parts need to be ordered, tracking numbers on shipments, etc. When we know all the information, we know what to do to avoid potential failures in the plan.

Set clear expectations

Your processes and procedures must be made clear and simple. If your vendor needs to check in or make notes as he goes, make sure to communicate clearly how this needs to be done. 

You'll also want to set clear expectations in other areas such as:

  • your level of expectation in service
  • what happens in the event that something goes wrong
  • what happens if the vendor cannot complete the job
  • warranties, liability, and other data

Make sure updates are happening often.

Know what's going on. If the vendor has a hard time getting to the site, or parts haven't arrived on time, you need to be updated about it. If a mistake is made and you know about it, it gives you the opportunity to correct the problem.

Of course, getting updates from vendors assumes that the vendor will take initiative in providing this information. That cannot be assumed, and you will have to be intentional about it. Management software helps with this.

Review your processes.

There is always room to improve, and you can never been too intentional about making sure things are squared away.

If you're finding that mistakes are still being made, revisit the processes and procedures. Talk with your vendors and find solutions that will benefit everyone involved.

Overall, vendor compliance and liability can be simple and stress free. As long as you are intentional and know what you're looking for going into a job, you can take the steps to have a great experience and a job well done.

What's Holding You Back From Meeting Your Maintenance Goals?

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By Katie Torres

You're concerned about starting because you're busy. 

Because there's cost involved.

Because you don't have everything you need to meet your goals, and everything that's been offered up to this point is just not working.

The truth is...

Time doesn't have to hold you back.

The reason you don't have enough time is because you're spending it unnecessarily on tasks that can be eliminated by having the proper processes and procedures in place.

For example, having someone who can manage your work orders and track your assets for you will provide the information you need while freeing you up to keep working toward your goals as a company.

There is a way to make more time for what's important. 

Money doesn't have to hold you back.

The cost of starting is less than the cost of staying reactive.

You might be hesitant to put money toward building up your processes. But if you don't, you will continue to spend money where you don't need to.

A single unnecessary work order is one too many. Imagine how much extra money you're losing on work orders that could be prevented...

Stop doing that to yourself. Make the smaller investment now that will give you the greatest return and keep you from losing money on constant reactive maintenance.

A lack of resources doesn't have to hold you back.

If you're waiting to take action in your FM department because you don't have the people, processes, software, money, time....whatever it is...

If you're waiting because you don't have these things, there is awesome news for you:

Every obstacle you are concerned about has a solution. It’s just a matter of trusting in the options presented to you to help you overcome the hurdles. 

There are options. There are people who can help you along the path that will create success in your FM department, both now and for the future.

In reality, nothing is holding you back from achieving your company's greatest goals.

Every obstacle you are concerned about has a solution. It's just a matter of trusting in the options presented to you to help you overcome the hurdles.

Facilities Managers: You're Busy, But You Don't Have to Be

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By Katie Torres

You're getting ready for the weekend, working hard to tie up the loose ends and finish up that work order that's been causing so much stress over the last week.

You're thinking about the plans you want to make for the weekend and just wondering how on earth you're going to make that happen when you've got needs for repairs ASAP, but you're still not sure how to make them happen.

Now, imagine never feeling like that again.

Think about your biggest, wildest goals. Think about how you'd spend your free weekend (or many free weekends). Think about your goals for your company. What does all of that look like in your head?

Go ahead...I'll give you a minute to visualize this...

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ready?

Okay. Listen very closely: It's possible.

That's right. 

You don't have to be so busy that it's impossible for you to reach your goals.

The work you do every day to keep your company running does not have to make you so busy that you are unable to do the work necessary to reach your long term goals.

If you are tired of your daily tasks overwhelming you to the point where you are unable to even think about making things better for your future, then you need to start reevaluating your processes.

Make lists. Review your goals. Look at what you're doing now. Figure out what's working and what isn't, decide what you want the most, and take action on it.

When you prioritize in this way, you will find that the tasks you were unnecessarily spending time on will be eliminated.

That means no more unnecessary work orders (and no more paying for them, either).

It means less unexpected breakdowns in equipment.

And, no more being so busy your daily tasks that you are unable to work toward making things better for the future of your company.

At some point, you will be able to go into your weekend without worrying about that one last work order.

And the other possibilities of what you'll be able to accomplish are limitless. 

Facilities Maintenance: Where Are You Overspending?

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By Katie Torres

Of all the concerns that FM departments typically have, overspending generally seems to be among the top of the list.

A lot of the problem with this is the inability to pinpoint where exactly those extra expenses are occurring, and how to stop them from popping up.

There are a few key areas where unnecessary maintenance costs crop up, though, and these are the areas you'll want to focus your attention to cut down on unnecessary spending:

Unnecessary work orders for warranty items.

If you warranty has not yet expired, but you don't know this because of poor tracking of data and assets, you will likely find yourself paying to fix or replace items before it is necessary. 

It is essential to have the proper management software to prevent these costs from sneaking up on you. Don't get stuck paying more than necessary simply because you didn't have the information on hand to make a decision. 

Unnecessary work orders for issues that could have been resolved by checking power supply or settings before calling out a vendor.

Calling a vendor may seem like the right thing to do when something is broken. But sometimes, it isn't.

There are times when all that is necessary is to switch on the circuit breaker, or check the settings on the temperature control for your cooler. 

You might find that less things are broken than simply needing some small adjustments, and you'll save yourself the expense of calling someone to do it for you.

Unnecessary breakdowns of equipment or mechanical systems because store personnel are not cleaning or taking care of your equipment and facilities as they should.

We see this a lot with fryers, with grease buildup and lack of proper upkeep. 

Avoid the extra work orders by making sure your equipment is being properly cleaned and maintained. It really can be as simple as wiping down equipment daily, and it will save you hundreds (if not thousands) down the road.

 

Reduce Unnecessary FM Costs By Focusing On These 2 Areas

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By Katie Torres

What would happen if you were to find out that a good number of your current expenses in facilities maintenance are actually unnecessary costs to you and your company?

What would you do differently to make sure you were not spending more than you had to?

And, what would you do with the money you saved once you were able to avoid the extra costs?

Sometimes, it can seem like a long shot to start saving, especially with repairs having to be made continuously.

But if you're looking to change that pattern, here are the two areas you'll want to start focusing on more:

Process Improvement Savings 

What is your usual procedure for equipment failures? 

Most people usually react to these situations. Something breaks, and then they pick up the phone to find someone who can fix it for them.

This works fine until you see that the equipment keeps breaking, work orders keep piling up, and you find yourself in a pattern of reacting rather than acting on the problem to prevent it from happening in the first place.

So what can you do differently to break the pattern?

At Envoy, we do this a couple ways: first is asking what we're doing that technology could be doing for us. And the second is using processes (like not-to-exceed amounts) to control cost, and software to reduce the administrative burden.

Doing these things helps us to stay focused on our top priorities so we're not wasting time and money on things that can be done with better processes in place.

Maintenance Management Optimization 

Software not only helps to save time; it also provides us with the tools we need to make data driven decisions, helping to cut down on costs.

It gives the ability to keep track of repair history data, which helps to make better equipment and material purchasing decisions.

Our work order management software also provides us with communication and organization. We can send and receive updates throughout the entire work order process, from start to finish.

This means we know exactly what's going on at every step of the process. We are able to communicate this information quickly and effectively, and we're not left to chase after information.

Having the right technology and processes will help you save time, make the best decisions, and ultimately cut down on the cost for your facilities maintenance program.

Facilities Maintenance: Eliminating the Frustration

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By Katie Torres

I spent some time this morning editing some drafts for blog posts, and I noticed something:

Over and over again, I saw the word, "frustration".

I noticed that I use this noun more than any other noun when trying to convey the message about obstacles within facilities maintenance.

And honestly, I was a little...well...frustrated about that.

You see, the reason I get so sick of using the word, "frustration" (aside from the fact that it is overused and makes for poor writing), is because it gets discouraging having to use that word so often to describe facilities maintenance. 

Maybe you feel this way too.

Perhaps you're going to work every day, frustrated about the problems your FM department is running into and wondering how to make it better.

You're seeing the work orders piling up, the mistakes being made, and the money that leaves you faster than you can type out "ETA".

You're sick of being frustrated.

And the truth is, facilities maintenance should be anything but frustrating.

It should be a point of pride for any FM department, knowing they are the backbone of the company, keeping everything running smoothly.

This is why Envoy does what we do. It is the reason we are so interested in being helpful to the people on the other side of the work order. 

We know that facilities maintenance is not just about fixing things; it's about helping people. It's about making sure that businesses succeed; helping people to go home at the end of every day, knowing they can look forward to a better day when they come back in the morning.

Your FM program can be one that is informed, proactive, and effective. It can also be a source of excitement and pride when the job is done well. 

Start making decisions today to eliminate the frustration.

The Number One Cause of Overspending in Facility Maintenance

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By Katie Torres

If you were to name your single greatest obstacle with running your facilities maintenance program, what would it be?

We're willing to bet that overspending would be near the top of your list, and one of the areas you are most interested in making a change.

The first step in making that change is to find out where the overspending is happening, so you can stop the problem before it occurs.

Overspending happens for many different reasons, but the number one cause of this is due to unnecessary work orders.

And unnecessary work orders happen when there is a lack of asset tracking and detailed work order history on the equipment at your locations. 

Having the right management software can fix this.

Without a work order history and asset tracking, you are making uninformed decisions for your equipment and facilities, and you're spending money on unnecessary repairs.

But with a great software program, you have the ability to keep track of important data like repairs and spending, and to communicate quickly and effectively so no detail is missed.

You will have a complete history of repairs on your equipment, which means you are not guessing about when the last repair was made or when the next one needs to happen. So, you won't be spending extra on repairs before it's time.

You also know exactly what equipment you have, along with information on warranties and parts. So you won't be spending money on new equipment before your warranty is up, and you'll know exactly what you need when repairs are necessary.

If you're currently looking for great management software, you can find out more here

When you have the time, communication, and information you need to make decisions for your FM department, you will make a huge cut in overspending.

How Thinking for the Future Will Save Your FM Department Now (and Later)

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By Katie Torres

Some things are inevitable.

You know...Life, death, and taxes...and maintenance costs.

There is an increase in maintenance costs due to the decrease in skilled trade laborers entering the workforce, and this increase does not appear to be stopping any time soon.

Just like anything in life that is inevitable, there is nothing we can do to prevent these costs from rising. 

The companies who go out of business due to these rising costs will be the ones who are blindsided because they were not maintaining for the future, but chose to stay reactive.

The solution...

The solution lies in maintaining for the future.

Specifically, cutting the unnecessary maintenance costs now will provide a way to be prepared for rising costs in the future.

Cutting unnecessary maintenance costs happens when you:

  • Have up-to-date, accurate information.
  • Have a complete repair history, and the data to know when repairs need to occur next.
  • Negotiate well.
  • Find vendors who are looking out for your best interests.

There is a lot of talk about reducing maintenance costs. Rather than looking only to talk vendors down and save money on individual work orders, the focus needs to be on eliminating, all together, unnecessary work orders.

Our equipment and facilities need to be maintained in such a way that they will last long into the future, avoiding the need for extra repairs.

And most importantly, we need to realize that though the rising maintenance costs are inevitable, we have the ability to do something about it now.

Though the rising maintenance costs are inevitable, we have the ability to do something about it now.

Communication, Follow Through, and Cost Management

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By Katie Torres

I can't lie for very long.

The title of this post is slightly misleading. What's written here is not necessarily going to be about communication, follow through, or cost management.

It is going to be about the mindset that you, as a facilities manager, need to have, if you want these three things to really make a lasting impact on your company.

You see, communication, follow through, and cost management are great.

In fact, they are necessary and we spend a lot of time and resources to make sure these things happen.

What's most important...

But what is most important is having a mindset that thinks and plans for the future.

Right now, there is a huge problem hanging over the facilities maintenance industry: the sharp decline in skilled trade workers entering the workforce.

There are currently plumbers who are making $100,000 a year because the demand is so high, and the supply is falling.

For facilities managers, this means a much more difficult time finding the vendors needed to make repairs for our businesses, and this problem will only increase as demand continues to grow for skilled trade workers.

The end goal ultimately has to be an FM program that maintains for the future.

Facilities managers can no longer afford to be reactive.

The rates for skilled trade workers are increasing, and it doesn't appear that's going to change any time soon.

So reacting to every breakdown rather than preventing unnecessary work orders to begin with is going to end up costing a fortune now, and cause even bigger problems later.

The focus now needs to be on processes and procedures.

It needs to be on gathering the right data, and learning what to do with that data to make more informed decisions regarding equipment and facilities.

It needs to be on working with people who can negotiate on your behalf, and equip you with the information you need so that you can keep kicking butt with your FM program.

Communication, follow through, and cost management are, in fact, a part of well thought-out processes.

They are great goals for the present.

But the end goal ultimately has to be an FM program that maintains for the future.

Persuasion Will Meet Your Maintenance Needs

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By Katie Torres

When our CEO, Scott Reyes, began training on persuasion a few weeks ago, I took note.

And naturally, I used this newfound information to persuade him on something I've been needing.

Naturally. 

Luckily for me, he was amused, and he granted my request.

This information is also available to you, and will help you to persuade your audience (whether that be vendors or those on your team) to accomplish the goal that you have in mind.

The first step is this: Know what you want, and know what you're going to ask before you ask it.

This requires specificity. 

If you're an FM manager who needs someone on site that day because a storm caused significant flooding, you're going to want to make sure it gets done, and that it gets done quickly.

Ask yourself what you need, and do so in specific terms.

What exactly needs to be fixed? What parts are necessary? Exactly how many hours do you want for your timeframe in which your vendor arrives on site?

Then, you need to think: what do they want?

If a vendor is tight on time or resources, or has other reasons why they might be unable to meet your request, keeping their goals in mind will be the way to a deal that works for you both.

What motivates them? Surely, they want to be helpful. Remind them of the times they've been helpful in the past and how that benefited everyone involved, and show your appreciation for them stepping it up again.

Talk about the good name they build for themselves by showing up and getting the tough tasks done.

And even, of course, reminding them of how much money they can be making on the job doesn't hurt either.

Know your tools.

If there is going to be bad weather that might prevent a vendor from getting there, make sure you know that and have a plan you can propose to get around that. 

If material has not been ordered, find out exactly when it will be. In some cases, you may even want to order the parts yourself to get the job moving forward.

Ask for tracking information on the shipment of parts. This way, you're all in the loop, and everyone knows what is expected and when. 

Then, ask. And ask for more than what you actually need.

If it's noon, and you need someone by 8 pm that evening, ask the vendor to be there within two hours.

Sometimes, there will be pushback. A vendor might have another job, or they might have another reason for not being able to get there.

Stay agreeable, and empathize with any issues they might have. And go back to what motivates them to respond in a way that will persuade them to do what you're asking.

Have a backup plan.

Sometimes, what you're specifically asking just won't be possible. You'll need a backup plan. Maybe a compromise to the original plan, or another plan all together.

What will you do if you don't get what you want? How long will you work at the original plan before deciding to move on to plan B?

Go over the plan.

Once you've come to an agreement, recap everything. 

Make sure everyone has what they need to get the job done, and go over what you agreed upon. Then decide when to follow up.

Follow up.

Stay in communication from that point on. Make sure you know when decisions are made, and when the job gets accomplished. Talk about any obstacles that come up before they happen and cause trouble.